DES MOINES — The powder in a letter sent to Iowa Gov. Chet Culver’s office is believed to be corn starch rather than any hazardous substance, law enforcement officials said Friday.

The letter was similar to those sent to roughly 30 governor’s offices around the country, including six received Friday.

Jerry Ingrisano, a supervisor and special agent with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, called the incident a “national event” that is under investigation.

Ingrisano said a letter also was included inside the envelope but he declined to reveal what it said.

Ingrisano said he’s not at liberty to discuss whether the letter came from Texas, which reports have identified as the source of the other letters. No arrest had been made in the case late Friday afternoon.

The FBI had warned Iowa law enforcement officials in advance that a letter might be coming.

Lt. Mark Logsdon of the Iowa State Patrol said they recognized that the letters all shared a similar postmark and had come from the same state. A screening process was set up at the post office to intercept any letters addressed to the governor with a return address of Texas.

“Obviously, one of them slipped through and got to the governor’s office, and we took the necessary measures to be able to contain that and notify the postal inspectors who could come on site,” Logsdon said.

A member of the governor’s staff received the letter around 10:15 a.m. Friday and immediately contacted authorities. That area of the governor’s office on the ground level of the State Capitol was locked down with the staff still inside, while the rest of the Capitol remained open. Culver’s formal office is on the 1st floor.

Preliminary testing on the envelope for chemical, biological and radiological substances by the Iowa National Guard was negative. The powder contained in the envelope is now being taken to a lab for testing.

Charlotte Eby can be reached at 515-422-4061 or chareby@aol.com.

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